Selectboard Meeting Notes – Union Contracts, BMAC, and Community Safety Fund

brattleboro selectboard oct 19

The Brattleboro Selectboard held a long meeting Tuesday, discussing union contracts, BMAC, selectboard goals,  and more.

The big conversation, though, was about the creation of a $200,000 fund for alternatives to policing. The board was pretty happy with it, but the public wasn’t sure they could be trusted.

Comments | 8

  • A preliminary preliminary note

    … I’m exhausted, but will do my best to serve you. Please forgive any errors and typos tonight. I’ll see how long I can make it. Rather curious about sustainability, myself…

  • Preliminaries

    Pre-meeting banter – about Kevin Rogers, jury duty, babies… being sick, waiting for Peter, remote meetings, Peter getting lost, Tim disappearing, zoom backgrounds, Peter having issues, Patrick… Peter!

    Chair Elizabeth McLoughlin – two things, first is that it was interesting, a few weeks ago we noticed heat costs going up in Europe, then I hear this week the same is happening in this country and also that the State of VT has federal funds to help with heating costs. Town of Brattleboro isn’t involved, but other organizations do. The other thing is that every so often we have a consent agenda, and it is anyone’s right to pull an item. I’m going to do that for the plans to meet at Central Fire Station, considering the death of Colin Powell – he was vaccinated and got COVID and passed away, which is terrible, but also the fact that community spread is so dangerous. We need the entirety of the population to be vaccinated to get rid of this spread. I’ll pull that so we can have a discussion as the last item in the meeting. My thought is that, yes, you can follow all the rules….

    Town Manager Peter Elwell – no comments tonight

    Daniel Quipp – you were referring to the federal dollars coming to the state for LIHEAP – and I work for SEVCA and we are the local organization to help people access funds from LIHEAP for crisis fuel program, and the seasonal fuel program. There is extra money. I was on a call this morning – this year people will be able to get twice as many gallons of fuel, or cords of wood, or pellets for crisis fuel, and a significant seasonal payment in Novemeber. If you need any help, call SEVCA in Brattleboro – 8022542795 on Grove Street near the Municipal Center. Windham County Heat Fund is great, too.

    Tim Wessel – I wanted to let everyone know that my comments about cannabis – there is a bright spot. Just a few days ago the control board sent their recommendations to the legislature, and to my surprise, they did end up with the fees that are unfortunate, but they did take the move to recommend direct 1-2% of the tax to the municipalities where it occurs. A great statement form the CCB. Municipalities need support and incentives. Thanks to the CCB, but the fight is not over in the legislature.

    Ian Goodnow – right now, there was a virtual town hall on refugee resettlement in VT. It was recorded and accessible at some point. Leahy was there. Look out for it…

    Liz – there is also an office that has opened in Brattleboro…

    Ian – to the public?

    Liz – not sure.

    Elwell – there is going to be a ribbon cutting coming up in a week or two. That’s for the Ethiopian council opening a new office locally.



  • Consent Agenda

    A. Monthly Financial Report – Through September (First 3 Months of FY22)

    B. VCDP Grant Brattleboro Housing Authority – Accept and Appropriate

    C. Bike/Ped Master Plan – Authorize Application for Municipal Planning Grant

    D. Utility Terrain Vehicle – Authorize Purchase

    (E. Plans for In-Person Selectboard Meeting at Central Fire Station on November 2)

    Elwell – if you pull no other items, this is the list…

    So, consented (7E goes to end of meeting

  • Union Station - BMAC

    Elwell – this has been under discussion for a long time, and came for public consideration two weeks ago. It came in the form we have been reviewing – a purchase and sale agreement (an appropriate legal document, but it isn’t really a sale…) this is a transfer ship of ownership so that BMAC will take on repairs, roof replacement. In 1972 the Town saved it and provided a home to the (new) BMAC. It’s now a regional cultural institution, and they want to be responsible for the building. It’s in the taxpayers best interest to let it go to BMAC. There are some other details. That’s the summary, though.

    Daniel Quipp – question from the community (me!) Will BMAC be paying any property taxes?

    Elwell – technically it will become taxable. But, they are a non-profit and other issues that makes it likely that they will qualify for tax exemption. A decision made by assessors and listers,… there are layers of this. The straight answer is it is likely to remain tax exempt. RTM must also approve this transfer to BMAC.

    Liz – if we vote, it is only partially ratified, until RTM votes. This is a positive move and there will be interesting changes in that part of Brattleboro that will coalesce to form a nice public space.

    Approved! (now on to RTM….)

  • Union Police Officer Compensation + Creation of Community Safety Fund

    Elwell – I’d like to say broadly for the next four items, the town has been in collective bargaining with all 4 units and we have reached successful outcomes. They have different details, and they are in an important sequence. With that as the table setting, I’ll offer details on all the individual ones.

    The reason for the first, with the NEPBA, and I recommend a community safety fund. As we have discussed, Brattleboro Police is as understaffed as we’ve been in a long time. Out of 27 positions approved, we typically run 22-25. This year we got down to 17, now at 18. Critically low staffing. Earlier this summer we made changes to some agreements at that time because the underlying agreement from three years ago presumed a three shift system, and we shifted to a two shift system. That was an emergency action you took. Longer term, the highest priority for action simplest some things immediately before the old contract expires. There is a substantial pay increase – to properly compensate mid career and senior staff. Currently not where it should be, compared to other southern VT paid police. They are significantly better than Brattleboro for pay. It is a complicated time, and there are staffing challenges. But from exit interviews and comparative data, our salary structure is a material contributing factor to our staffing shortage. Two parts are equally important. One, this adjustment for mid career folks, then a raise of 11K to starting salary – to attract good police to apply, but the data – we were paying what was typical different amounts for those in training – it takes 9 months. Starting salary is about $38k – the academy salary – to go get training. Chief Hardy and others have been working on better ways to bring them into the department, so there is some in service training before the academy. As that has been implemented, it made pay problematic. Offering the academy salary as entry level pay put us in a deficient position. We recommend eliminating the academy salary, and then make entry level salary at $49k, slightly above others, and a pay system to go with them moving up. It raises up our pay compared to other departments. We’ll be more competitive.

    What’s before you is an addendum to the existing collective bargaining agreement. All expire next June 30, 2022. This issue with police staffing and pay needed to be addressed while I was town manager. The date for implementation will be November 1st for new pay structure. Then, next July 1, a 3% pay increase for all sworn police, dispatcher, animal control, parking folks, police clerks… they’ll benefit next July 1st. The only substantive change is compensation. We’re addressing the four of these as one year extensions so that the expiration of each will be June 2023. It allows Yoshi Manale to work for a while and see how the town works, so that when he and Sally do the next 3 year agreements, that would be 2023-26 and he’ll be familiar by then and can represent the town. Goals now were to fix compensation, and then to extend the term by one year to let Yoshi get up to speed for the next round.

    I’d like to talk about the companion item. There is a direct relationship – the community safety fund. Then I’ll be quiet. The Community Safety fund I’m proposing is part of relying on others who aren’t police… I won’t be overly specific or too deep in those weeds. I’ll summarize – I believe there is broad consensus that we rely on police excessively for challenges, like we rely on schools and teachers excessively…. it is affecting policing. We are looking for alternatives to police intervention wherever it can work. There are ideas in the community, and in the police department. The key concern I’ve had is that we don’t have funds available to be readily at hand to support the launching of good ideas that need some funding. The Town traditionally usually has more in the police budget than is used due to staff shortages. There are always some salary savings surpluses. This year, there would be an extraordinarily large surplus of funds because we were so low in staffing. Even with overtime, the “savings” would be $340k – usually it is around $100k. More typical. This year, with $340k or more. So, western at $340k. The changes in collective bargain will be 70k for this fiscal year. That leaves $270k. We have the need to draw on funds for launching good ideas to shift the paradigm. I recommend you create a community safety fund, like you did with sustainability and fossil fuels, with $200k. You would be the decision makers on expending funds from the community safety fund and support programs presented to you. If you do this, that would leave $50-100k in police savings this year. We can do the investment in the police, and do the creation of the community safety fund, and still be in a cautious position. So, I ask you to approve the police changes and the creation of the community safety fund starting with $200k.

    Liz – does that include projected overtime?

    Elwell – yes, and filling some positions before the final year ends.

    Daniel – I’m in favor of both of these two things. Entry level positions being more competitive is wise and safe for the community. I support the idea of the community safety fund. The name of the fund has raised an eyebrow, but it to build up alternatives to policing. It’s reasonable to do both things at the same time. In the creation of the fund, we’ll do better with policing. I applaud it and support it.

    Tim – Yes, I’d like to – I’m on the same page as Daniel. I thank Peter. This is a pretty elegant solution for us to move forward. I made some noise about being more specific with he title, but insisting in a well defined name got us to the 5f funds… the goal is to balance the support for police who already serve and build the force back, while providing funds to try innovative ideas. They may not please everyone, but we have a board here that generally supports that idea, of giving some real weight and money to support police by taking some of those roles they’d tell you they are uncomfortable with themselves. My but is that I think I would suggest we start a little bit lower in the price because I see this every year, since I’ve been on the board, there is always a surplus of police funds. The tradition is to return that to the general fund. Spending $200k plus… could be a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayers money – everyone in the community. Renters included. It’s hard for me to get excited without seeing the ideas.

    Jessica Gelter – I will confess to feeling a bit nervous when I heard about increase police salaries after all we’ve been through in the last year. However, with Norma at the helm, and the comparative data we’ve been shown, the best tool we can give Norma for creating a police force that is high quality and feeling valued and not feeling stressed around salary and income, this is a really great move. It entices high quality candidates to apply. And it is important that we are on the same day balancing it with this significant – a substantial and meaningful number to help move alternative forward. I support them both.

    Ian – I’m in support. I appreciate that I’ve been on this board and heard us support the police and the community safety review and alternative forms of safety in the community. This is the time that we do something that is more than just talk, and I cherish this. I can vote yes on better police pay and give a substantial amount of money to invest in alternatives to policing. Actual action… I’m excited to vote yes.

    Liz – I echo the positive statements. I agree. This is an opportunity to put our money where our mouths are. The police have been asked to do things we ask of our schools. We need to continue along this journey to make both sides of the coin real. Value our police officers, but support nonprofit partners that Brattleboro is well known for, for alternatives. I fully support it as well.

    Ian – shall we debate Tim on the money amount?

    Liz – we’ll vote on each separately …

    Ian – I’d like to finish discussion and vote both through… but up to you.

    Liz – let’s hear from public, then discuss…

    Kurt Daims – My name is Kurt Daims. I am with BCS. Chief Wrinn said the police needed raises more than the new police station. Mark Carignan says they need more troops. We’re going at it wrong if we just raise salaries. Carignan said people aren’t signing up and others in the academy quit because it was too politically charged to become a police person. The board should implement the safe policing initiative of BCS.

    HB – nice to be back with you all. I’m excited about this proposal- the community safety fund.. I commend you for taking this step. It’s hard to do the work without the resources. I have three process related questions – for accessing the funds.. an application ? A rubric for decision-making? And is this going to be an ongoing commitment, or a one time thing?

    Elwell – The most important thing is that we set it aside for the discretion of the selectboard. I think that in proposing this, it is important that it not be overly specific initially. One thing the board is concerned about is what will qualify? What won’t? The important things is that we have an unusual opportunity with the sever understaffing in the police department. I think it is important to put the money for the best use, but set it aside for this purpose. Doing the community safety review work, good ideas are popping up, but we ask how we’d fund such a thing. This is substantial, and can be used to protect the public. We should set it aside for the alternative purpose and look at how to make decision going forward, and to the definitions of what it can be spent on. There are things I know about, and things I don’t know about. It felt that being overly specific would be premature. Not a dollar will be spent until the selectboard approves spending this money. Decisions will be made in public, and a process can be created. Creating it when we can declare this intention, and only spendable by the board, that’s enough process at this point…

    Liz – will it be ongoing?

    Elwell – ongoing on its own as a budget item is for future board members and RTM to decide. We’ll do this tonight, then budget season. In the proposed budget I intend to propose an additional allocation, but I don’t know how much. We don’t think we’ll be full staffed next year. I need to check some more, and see where we end up, but in two weeks I”’ recommend another allocation in the next budget. After that, it depend son how it is used and support for it being ongoing.

    HB – the reasons we’ll miss you, Peter.

    Shea W. – thanks for all the work you are doing. I have a few thoughts. I want to be concise. As I hear this idea proposed, the two ideas are being tied together but are separate. It sounds like a compromise with a two pronged approach. We’d increase police salaries now, but over time the department will grow and increase over time. Way out, looming, increasing the size of that system. The funds would start out large, but if positions get filled, there might be less money allocated in the future. There is flexibility, but are we choosing to expand or contract these systems with this, as what people. We should consider the zoomed out system of what we should be doing. I hear up until today – is this just more money for the police? For white folks to hold? Or can we have an advisory body of people with lived experience…I want to build in accountability and power shifting . That’s why we are doing this work. We can’t get to o specific, but looking at Peter’s implementation chart – there is language you could use to begin to structure. Change the name Alternatives to Policing Fund. Some of the CSRC recommendations aren’t alternatives to traditional policing – food, shelter, health… that’s community safety Not to get too nit picky, but words matter. We said we’d support BIPOC led program, invest in restorative justice… there is language you can use to help you think about this. There could be a lived experience advisory group. Without more clarity, it could be helpful, or not, to marginalized people. It could be amazing. We will have too clarify it as it goes along. For increases of salaries – we said no more increases beyond the cost of living, and to reduce overtime budget, and reducing the size of the police force over time. Not contradictory, but want to remind us of what we’ve discussed so far, Over time, if we get back to ideal staffing, we’d see budget increases – the proposal lives in a really inbetween space. It could be easily co-opted. No people of color are speaking on this. People say these meetings are traumatic for them and won’t attend, but hope that police won’t get money from this, when we want to build alternatives. If it doesn’t get grounded in the recommendation language, then it should be called something else. Throwing a little wrench in, out of love and a desire to see it move forward with long term positive impact.

    Liz – Peter has left the spending decisions to the selectboard, the board has committed to equity and alternative policing. The structure is in place. The intent is to provide alternatives to policing, but they haven’t been developed yet. We need to hold fast to that idea and commit to both expenditures.

    Daniel – to Shea – when we were discussing this initially – the collective bargaining is in executive sessions to start, and when we began talking about that, I recalled one recommendation was no more budget increases for police behind cost of living. It wasn’t something I was ignorant of. I wrestled with it, and other board members did , too, and weighed it and landed where I landed, in full awareness of the messiness of that. If this came forward without the community safety fund, I probably couldn’t support it. As it is, I can. It is a little gray. I’m in charge of discretionary funds at work, and it can be spent easily or not depending on access to power. I believe in the partnerships we’ll need to build what we want. When I imagine how to spend the money might be restorative justice work at a neighborhood level – maybe something like that, an existing program scaling up. That’s how I see it. Tried to balance it all. This is a good way forward, and I’m not offended by skepticism.

    Shea – yea – some was CSR, and some was my belief – that we should honor that language.

    Elwell – I’d offer a clarification – it has come up that it looks like a compromise – it is that, but I offer that as the author of the second part – the fund – I believe both are really important things to do.Doing one and not the other would be bad for our community. That’s my personal belief, and why I recommend these two things. People in the community might like one and not the other, or vice-versa. It’s in the board interest of the community. They seem contrary , but both are important to do, and there is a balance between them. I hope both things can move forward. One without the other isn’t our best forward.

    Robin Morgan – I want to speak to the math, in alignment with what Shea said… the proposal is an ongoing permanent increase to the police, and a one time fund for alternatives to policing. Peter says this could be in future budgets, but where does that money come from. Police staff numbers have been below the full force since 2010. Is that the right size for the department? Could we reduce the number permanently then give raise and have money for alternatives?

    Elwell – That’s a discussion for budget season, when we talk about the police department. That’s the time to talk about funding and staffing. It doesn’t affect the items before you tonight, but it is an expected conversation to be had. Our police staffing level is potentially harmful right now… the size of the police force will always be an issue, and can be discussed during budget season, but doesn’t determine tonight’s decisions.

    Liz – funds for initiatives by community groups are not limited by the fund. There are other ways to fund things… the board has other ways to fund things…

    Terry Martin – long time in the community and in law enforcement. Your best motivator of cops isn’t money but good leadership. We met Chief Hardy at the legion. We were very pleased with her leadership. She has some reserve guard background. I fully support the pay increase. Troopers start at just under $53k, then raises start… in one year with a good evaluation, it could be $60k. The pay raise in Brattleboro is an excellent start and will attract recruits to apply. Pay isn’t the best motivator, but they do look at salaries and benefits. It’ll help attract and keep officers. Regarding the Afghani’s coming to town, could I bring that up now?

    Liz – I’d rather you didn’t

    Terry – Raymond Clark will call him about ESL tomorrow…

    Kelsey Rice – I think Emily was before me.. I’ll be concise. I do want to quickly say I support the salary increases for the police, but also I really ask that you take to heart what Shea spoke to about the advisory review board. best of intentions… you don’t have the lived experience to know what would be most helpful. I value their work, but the power differential… I hope you can get an advisory review board going soon. Also, regarding the size of the department… yea right now we need the police – actual safety plans to protect me, my staff, my sons preschool… as a survivor of domestic violence, it puts the community at risk. Carignan gave me warmth and support and it was fantastic. It’s not an option for our kids to be at risk and not have a police officer be able to get there. We still need the police…

    Emily Megas-Russell – thanks for bringing action to the table. It’s nice to be debating this after all the good work that has been put in. I’m reminded that we need to act, but also be mindful of not making formalized paths without considering long term impacts. In my action work, intention does not equal impact. It is really hard to tend to intention and impact at the same time. I see the intention of this, which I’m grateful for, but share some of the concerns about the impacts. Repetition is how we deepen. It might be frustrating to review our previous work, but the four sections are in order, and my sincere hope is that any action we take comes out of the recommendations already made. Creating something doesn’t necessarily have the impact we have. How do we build in the acknowledgment of harm? A lot of people took a lot of risks to share with us. We need new structures of accountability. I’d imagine around the nation police accountability has been difficult. If we are opening options for alternatives, the status quo is quite strong. I’m appreciative of the idea, but a lot of work still needs to be done. We want the alternatives to be sustainable, and for the police to not just keep growing.

    Gary Stroud – workin on it… can you hear me? Perfect. This is acting up tonight. I guess, Kudos for the mommies going to safety. Can’t put a price tag on safety, or a human life. People who have had experiences with the police…if it pleases the board, maybe they could be an advisory committee or oversight committee, to make sure it is running in a manner that works for everyone? Maybe amend it and put it in… that there would be this advisory group down the road.

    Liz – it is 8 pm and we take a break for interpetters… back at 8:10

  • More Police/Community Safety Fund....

    Jessica – I want to start by saying I’m grateful to Shea for bringing us back to the points and Emily to the goals, and Kelsey also, for her comments. All the comments made me think about the importance of making sure were are making fund decisions from a position that is informed and increases the safety for those folks identified as people whose safety is not well addressed by policing. The first use of this fund could be to get advisors to help us make decisions from the perspective of those communities. A question around tying the fund to an imagined leftover surplus and if that is going to set it up as a strong fund as its own, or constantly be a risk? If it is, could it be its own independent thing in the budget. And, will it be in the regular town budget presented to RTM, or its own element at that point?

    Elwell – so, the second answer… yes it will be in the general fund budget of the town. Raised as general revenue, allocated from the general fund. The FY23 budget – it’ll be in there. To the first question, it depends on actions of the board and town meeting. We have an opportunity right now due to current circumstances – the xtra funds due to staff shortage – I saw an opportunity to create this fund. I agree that you should move slowly and carefully, and the process to spend the money should go slow. Could this be unrelated to the police? It could come from other savings in something directed to safety. It’s important to do it now. If the nexus is a concern to people, or that there is a limited supply of such funds. If that is a concern, you could decide not to do this now. It would be a lost opportunity, in my view. This is the year with the big savings, most likely. I say you should go ahead, not so I can feel good about it, but if not, the $200k doesn’t get allocated to this, and the creation of the fund starts from scratch at some other time. We do what we can when we can and try to hold ourselves back from going to far. You can allocate the $200k to this purpose, and make a commitment to moving slowly for the process and expenditures so you implement it correctly. Should stop you from creating the fund…

    Jessica – one more question. Who might have access to the funds… it says it could be initiated by the community, or town, or police department. We heard some comments concerned that this would be additional police funding and that was not aligned with the needs that were expressed.

    Elwell – happy to share me to write that… in the work we’ve been doing so far, over the last 9-10 months since the report, and specifically to work that Chief Hardy has brought with her and is doing in the community – tremendous communication and establishing relationships in the community. I want to be open to the idea that Chief Hardy or BPD might come forward a great idea outside of the scope of traditional policing in the spirit of the work we are doing and would be acceptable to the selectboard. There are things going on now that could blossom… alternative spaces and peer supports instead of iris intervention. neighborhood capacity, restorative practices, resolving conflicts without calling police… and a variety of others. It is also true… we’ve been at this for a while… there have been ideas coming from town staff, not in the community safety report. Also ideas from the community. So I thought I’d be specific here for transparency. I recommend you keep open to the idea that a good idea that is an alternative to policing could even come from the police or other parts of town government.

    Tim – Shea had concerns for the police using this fund… I want to make this clear that the way I understand it… it is our fund. The Selectboard. Peter says, initiatives can come from the community or the police, or others. The deciding factor is this selectboard. I’d love to hear good ideas from Norma Hardy and the community should welcome this. I wanted to get that out there, and now that it has been aired. We should make it clear, and the amount isn’t desired, I’d like to incorporate his language into this – they must be for community safety alternatives and must be approved in advanced by the selectboard. It’s super important to be clear with these proposed funds.

    Liz – I see nodding heads. And Daniel said we need to trust each other.

    Ian – It’s an interest point of order question – do memos that come with votes… are they built into the record as a component of the vote?

    Liz – no.

    Elwell – they provide important context but not definition. Definition is in your motion.

    Ian – then yes, let’s add Tims suggestions, and liked the community feedback. This is the natural next step in this process and we’ve got great ideas and I think, practically, we need to get some money to start figuring this out. This is a wonderful moment to seize the moment and get money for the next step. Resources and funding can encourage innovation and creativity. Resources available can help do that. To do create this will help us to move to the next step – implementing ideas in concrete ways. OK to be vague. It’s a moment to act.

    Daniel – in the interest of acting on the consensus around the police raises and this fund… and we have so much more to do tonight… the creation of the fund tonight will be sufficient. We’ll remember these conversations when Yoshi starts in january.

    Liz – tim, discuss the amount?

    Tim – I’m reading the room, don’t think horse trading on this will work. I hear what Ian just said – this opportunity being seized. I don’t like an assigned amount to a definition, but I trust we’ll define those going forward.

    Liz – we are allocating funds to decide how to use later on..this is the first step.

    Tim – I’m swayed…

    Ann Lousie – I’d love to… can you relate what the friendly amendment was?

    Tim – direct language form the memo about criteria – for community safety initiatives for alternatives and must be approved by the selectboard.

    Ann Lousie – that second piece is contradictory to the fear of it being controlled by people in power. It’s design to support those most impacted. There is a lot of tension and disconnect there. It became clear – it feels so separate from the efforts being done to move and shift from the folks in power to support the solutions from the folks most impacted. I heard that others wanted a different group to determine how the funds would be used. A lot of the fear started previously just got solidified with the selectboard taking on full control.

    Liz – I can respond – what is being lost is the responsibility fo the selectboard to allocate funds. We’ve made commitments to equity, listening and alternatives to policing, but we also need to be good keepers of town funds. I don’t want to give away that responsibility. Whenever an option comes up, it will be discussed in public and be part of community policing, so I’m not concerned that the board won’t be listening to a variety of voices putting forward proposals or commenting on them. What we are voting on right now if to assign funds to be held for that purpose. Other issues can be dealt with as we move ahead.

    Anne Louise – I appreciate the opportunity to share and this will be about trust until we see what happens. Before you make the decision, listen to others who have their hands raised (Shea and Gary)

    Gary – is this being recorded? I haven’t seen the red light.

    Elwell – BCTV records them…

    Daniel – and we’ll have minutes…

    Gary – you answered my question… the selectboard makes the decision, and Tim I want to ask about the cannabis things…

    Tim – RTM still approves the budget, but not the nitty gritty.

    Gary – the language that could be included about an advisory committee…this is uncharted waters for all of us. And I was wondering if the police Chief would be here tonight to talk about this. Didn’t know if Chief Hardy would speak to this and why they think it should be given to the police force.

    Elwell – Chief Hardy is in the meeting. IN the absence of creating this fund, then the fund doesn’t exist and would sit in the police fund budget. What’s proposed is to take from the police budget and set aside for this fund… and thinking slowly and carefully about how to spend it. The board could decide on a process, but the only legally way to spend money is for the selectboard to spend it. They have that accountability to the public for their actions. The board has to decide in advance how to spend things – no reimbursing. And, it is done by the board, in accordance to spending public money, in public meetings… there can be other ways to invite participation, but there will always be opportunities to weigh in. Nothing tonight is about process or recipients.

    Gary – so it sits there until we decide how it is allocated?

    Elwell – the board has to decide the process and what to spend it on.

    Shea – I want to echo so many other community members – inviting in more voices about the decision making. I hear some community members saying it is a great idea, then I hear Liz saying don’t worry we’ll decide. And to Tim, it is surprising to me that you cannot imagine why anyone would have a concern about police accessing an alternatives to policing fund, given the recommendations and report we gave you. I propose a process to help you later. Open yourself to the idea that the police have specifically harmed people in the community, severely.

    Tim – I never said that, Shea… but thank you.

    Shea – “I can’t imagine anyone opposing good ideas…”

    Tim – yes, but board decides the funding, it doesn’t go tot the police.

    Chief Hardy – Can you hear me? I will say this. I’ve been meeting with Peter extensively on this, and coming from me, that it was a really good faith gesture. The money was there and has been there for the police budget, and since we weren’t utilizing it we should make it useful in other ways. I see what Brattleboro is trying to accomplish, and if we got the ball rolling, and it has been discussed in the community to look for other directions for mental health, homelessness…. I have these discussions all the time. Having a starting point and base to fund intiatives…taking it forward and away from the police – it’s a good step forward. As for the police raise…that’s really the thing to do. We talk about the number of police in Brattleboro- it’s amazing they continue to do the work they do. They are offering money, stipends, and bonuses to get people to come to other towns. I will sit down with he community and aI do agree with some of the points that have been made, and the police don’t have to be involved in everything – but we get 7,000 calls a month at dispatch, and 900 for police specific calls.

    Daniel makes motion to give police raises and $200k to start a community safety fund.



    TO ESTABLISH A COMMUNITY SAFETY FUND IN THE INITIAL AMOUNT OF $200,000…. which must be used for alternatives to traditional policing and must be approved in advance by the selectboard

    approved! 5-0

  • More collective bargaining, selectboard goals, and a sustainability update

    Elwell – Local 98, representing administrative employees – this is the only group without a step system. They get hired and only raises are cost of living each year. About 2%. The lack of a system makes it not fair – some people are paid not relevant to the work they do or others do. That needed to be addressed, so we’ll implement a step system. We assured local 98 we’d do this. each employee now has fair salary ranges related to responsibilities and to others.

    …. and I’m fading, so I leave it to others to let me know what happened.

    Night y’all.

    (Sorry Stephen Dotson – share your info in a story for us!)

  • Thanks Chris

    Some months the only way I know what’s going on is by your SB reports, so thanks.

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